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Cool the Planet!

An Orocan is Forever
Monday, November 13, 2006

You know you're Filipino when you have one of these in your bathroom.

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The 'Orocan'.

Produced by the Ashlar Industrial Corporation in the 1990s, the name 'Orocan' actually stands for their entire line of plastic products; which includes not just their trademark plastic drum, but also laundry basins, coolers, jugs, pitchers, utility storage, etc. But to a Filipino, the word 'Orocan' pertains to the lovely, plastic container you see in the photo; so much so that any large, plastic drum, regardless of the brand, is referred to as an 'Orocan'.

The Orocan is a work of genius. Available in a range of attractive colors, and made of hardy material, the Orocan has evolved only slightly throughout the years, becoming more streamlined. The original ones in the early 90s looked like a plastic version of "Oscar the Grouch's" garbage can. If you look in your lola's (grandmother's) bathroom, you might still be able to find the original, vintage model. That's right, they are never thrown away. No matter how dilapidated they get, they go through a thousand and one incarnations (as you will soon read). An Orocan is forever.

The Orocan has a thousand uses, many of them yet to be invented. It's most common use is as a water storage receptacle. Like all Filipino kids, I have lived through dozens of calamities and natural disasters where we've had to survive without running water for a week: super typhoons, earthquakes, drought, broken pipes, week-long blackouts, coup de etat, and military uprisings (ok, so the last two aren't ' natural disasters, but I'm proud to have lived through a good dozen or so of them). To me, these trying times were marked by freezing-cold, candle-lit baths using our precious water rations, which we scooped out with a tabo (ladle) from (you guessed it) Orocans.

In many Filipino bathrooms, it is not uncommon to find a giant, water-filled Orocan squeezed into the tiny crevice between the toilet and the wall, with a bucket or can floating serenely on the water's surface. Especially in areas where water pressure is weak, many households still flush their toilets the old-fashioned way by pouring torrents of water down the loo, much to many a guest's discomfort I'm sure.

In the summertime, the Orocan makes for a great kiddy-pool. Not only is it less wasteful, requiring less water, but kids get a kick out of being stuffed into tiny, watery, restricting spaces. I should know. As a kid, my mother used to put me in a water-filled Orocan in our driveway on balmy summer afternoons, and I would have a blast.

Aside from being the perfect water-saving device, there are many other creative uses for the Orocan. In the old days, when the lids were still 'Oscar-the-Grouch' inspired, kids would use them as shields when pretending to be Lion-O from 'The Thundercats", Conan the Barbarian, or one of the ninja Turtles (even though they didn't have shields). They were also great places to hide in during games of hide-and-seek.

For the college dormer, the Orocan makes for a lovely side-table or stool when turned upside down; while for the musician, the Orocan can add lively percussion to any song. The possibilities are endless.

And now for my main point (bet you thought I didn't have one!).

Australia is said to be facing it's worst drought in 1000 years. We are reminded of it everyday, on TV, in the news, on flyers you get in your mailbox reminding you of Sydney's on-going water restrictions. We do have a reservoir of recycled water used for flushing our toilets, and watering our lawns. Even then, it's not enough. Australia is a naturally arrid place, due to it's climate. But it seems the dryness has reached an alarming new level.

The local effects, as of now, are that I'm not allowed to water my garden as much as I'd like to. My plants are sad. The national effects include failed crops, a reservoir that is slowly being depleted, and possible drinking-water shortages in certain areas in the future.

They've identified the culprit as climate change. Already, the heat here is blistering on warm days (and I thought there was no place hotter Manila), and Australia is bracing itself for what is expected to be the warmest summer ever.

Australians seems pretty savvy on the issue of climate change (all except their Prime Minister, but I'm not in the mood to get political about this). There seems to be hundreds of on going campaigns on both national and grassroots levels to delay the frightening onslaught of global warming. There is definitely a greater sense of urgency in the fight against global warming here than in the Philippines. But while it's great that people are taking action, I can't help but feel frightened over how real it all is. It's become more than just mere theory. Just ask my plants.

Will I be seeing Orocans in Australian bathrooms in a few years time?

* The Orocan picture was taken from Orocan website.
** You can read more about Australia's drought here.

posted by koAla Paredes @ 4:15 PM,


At 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi.. i need help.. can u give me a site that features OROCAN products?

At 3:17 AM, Blogger heart4god100 said...

I saw an item called the Kitchen Queen in a magazine, while in Manila, Philippines. I have tried to find this item. Can you tell me if it has been imported to the U. S.? I am interested in at least 6 of these to take to Mexico.

At 2:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi i'm looking for your dish cabinet product that is sliding door icant find it now as if no available please make that sliding door very good and space saving cabinet.

At 5:59 PM, Blogger Canara Docklifts said...

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